In 2003, 50 Cent was the It Rapper who arrived behind a ton of hype. Last year it was Kanye West. This year it's The Game (real name: Jayceon Taylor), who was already being lauded as "hip hop's new blood" on the cover of Vibe magazine before his major-label debut even hit the streets. The Documentary went on to open at No. 1 on the Billboard pop albums chart. Of course it helped that The Game is a protégé of 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, who both executive-produced this Compton, L.A., emcee's respect-winning disc. Dre's patented gangsta beats drive tracks like "Westside Story," on which The Game shows California love, and 50 takes the mike on three cuts, including the hit first single "How We Do." The Game also gets a high-powered assist from Eminem, who produced and raps on "We Ain't," while West produced the haunting autobiographical "Dreams." "It's gon' take more than a bullet in the heart to hold me back," spits The Game, who was left in a coma after being shot five times while dealing drugs in 2001. Such gritty tales are the stuff of hardcore hip-hop legend. Whether they one day amount to making The Game "the brown Eminem," as he likens himself on The Documentary, remains to be seen.—C.A.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Dreams"